Geologic units in Wheatland county, Montana

Additional scientific data in this geographic area

Gravel (Quaternary and Tertiary) at surface, covers 33 % of this area

Variable deposits that range from pebble to boulder size and include sand, silt, and clay. Dominantly alluvial terrace, abandoned channel and floodplain, remnant alluvial fan, and local glacial outwash.

Judith River Formation (Cretaceous) at surface, covers 13 % of this area

Light brown to light gray, fine- to coarse-grained sandstone with interbeds of gray to black carbonaceous shale, silty shale, and thin coal. Local Parkman Sandstone Member (lower part of formation):yellowish gray to brownish gray and olive green, fine- to medium-grained, cross-bedded sandstone interbedded with yellowish gray, silty shale. Estuarine, brackish, and nearshore marine. Thickness as much as 305 m (1000 ft).

Eagle Formation (Cretaceous) at surface, covers 8 % of this area

Gray or grayish brown, thick-bedded sandstone, sandy shale, and thin interbedded coal. Chert-pebble lag deposit common at top of formation. Virgelle Member (lower part of formation in parts of central Montana): very light gray, gray, or brown sandstone that coarsens upward. Root zone and thin carbonaceous beds at top of member. Delta, coastal plain, tidal flat, and marine shoreface and foreshore. Thickness as much as 150 m (492 ft).

Bearpaw Formation (Cretaceous) at surface, covers 7 % of this area

Dark gray shale with several zones of calcareous concretions, a basal zone of ferruginous concretions, and numerous thin bentonite beds. Marine. Thickness as much as 300 m (984 ft).

Claggett Formation (Cretaceous) at surface, covers 5 % of this area

Dark gray to gray shale that weathers brown, with thin, gray sandstone laminae and beds in upper or middle part and calcareous concretions in lower part. Marine. Thickness as much as 170 m (558 ft).

Hell Creek Formation (Cretaceous) at surface, covers 4 % of this area

Light gray, bentonitic claystone that alternates with gray to brown sandstone interbedded with carbonaceous shale. Laterally equivalent to Lance Formation. Fluvial and flood plain. Thickness as much as 335 m (1,100 ft).

Alluvium (Quaternary) at surface, covers 4 % of this area

Gravel, sand, silt, and clay deposits of stream and river channels, and floodplains.

Mission Canyon Formation: locally includes Big Snowy Formation in south-central Montana (Mississippian) at surface, covers 4 % of this area

Gray, massive limestone with chert beds and nodules, and solution breccia zones. Shallow marine. Thickness as much as 520 m (1,706 ft). In south-central Montana - Big Snowy Formation: Olive gray, thick-bedded limestone, yellowish gray siltstone, dark gray shale, and yellowish brown, thin bedded siltstone and mudstone. Nearshore marine. Thickness 120 m (394 ft).

Telegraph Creek and Marias River Formations (Cretaceous) at surface, covers 2 % of this area

Telegraph Creek (Ktc): Thin interbeds of yellowish brown sandstone or siltstone and gray shale. Marine shoreface and offshore. Thickness as much as 200 m (656 ft). Marias River Formation (Kmr) - Kevin Member (Kmk): Dark gray shale with calcareous concretions and numerous bentonite beds. Upper part calcareous. MacGowan Concretionary Bed (middle part of member): grayish brown concretionary dolostone and limestone with phosphatic pellets, and gray to black chert pebbles. Marine. Thickness as much as 350 m (1,148 ft). Ferdig Member (Kmf): Gray and dark gray shale with thin siltstone or sandstone beds at the top. Marine. Thickness as much as 125m (410 ft). Cone Member (Kmc): Calcareous, dark gray shale and thin limestone beds and lenses. Widespread bentonite bed and septarian concretions near base. Shallow marine. Thickness as much as 20 m (66 ft). Floweree Member (Kmfl): Dark gray, noncalcareous shale with interbeds of siltstone. Calcareous concretions and scattered granules of dark gray chert. Shallow marine. Thickness as much as 30 m (98 ft).

Belle Fourche Formation (Cretaceous) at surface, covers 2 % of this area

Gray to black shale with ironstone concretions and numerous bentonite beds. Mosby Sandstone Member (upper part of formation in north- and east-central Montana): brown sandstone locally with chert pebbles, interbedded with gray shale. Big Elk Sandstone Member (lower part of formation in southwest-central Montana): light gray, chert-rich sandstone commonly stained dark red, interbedded with thin, dark gray to black clayey shale. Marine shelf. Thickness as much as 260 m (853 ft).

Tongue River Member of Fort Union Formation (Tertiary) at surface, covers 2 % of this area

Yellowish orange sandstone, sandy and silty carbonaceous shale, and coal. Alluvial plain. Thickness as much as 300 m (984 ft).

Kevin Member of Marias River Formation (Cretaceous) at surface, covers 2 % of this area

Dark gray shale with calcareous concretions and numerous bentonite beds. Upper part calcareous. MacGowan Concretionary Bed (middle part of member): grayish brown concretionary dolostone and limestone with phosphatic pellets, and gray to black chert pebbles. Marine. Thickness as much as 350 m (1,148 ft).

Telegraph Creek through Fall River Formation: Telegraph Creek, Niobrara, Carlile, Greenhorn, Belle Fourche, Mowry, Thermopolis, and Fall River Formations (Cretaceous) at surface, covers 2 % of this area

Telegraph Creek (Ktc): Thin interbeds of yellowish brown sandstone or siltstone and gray shale. Marine shoreface and offshore. Thickness as much as 200 m (656 ft). Niobrara Formation (Kn): Gray to dark gray shale with numerous thin bentonite beds. Chalky aggregates of coccoliths and rhabdoliths in upper part. MacGowan Concretionary Bed (middle part of formation): grayish brown concretionary dolostone and limestone with phosphatic pellets and gray to black chert pebbles. Marine. Lower part noncalcareous. Thickness as much as 9–23 m (30–75 ft). Carlile Formation (Kca): Dark to light gray, noncalcareous, partly silty or sandy shale with upper zone of white-weathering, calcareous concretions, middle zone of sandy, orange-weathering, calcareous concretions, and basal zone of ferruginous concretions. Marine. Thickness as much as 195 m (640 ft). Greenhorn Formation (Kgr): Gray to light gray calcareous shale and shaly marl with thin beds of limestone. Shale contains white to pink calcareous specks. Marine. Thickness as much as 100 m (30–75 ft). Belle Fourche Formation (Kbf): Gray to black shale with ironstone concretions and numerous bentonite beds. Mosby Sandstone Member (upper part of formation in north- and east-central Montana): brown sandstone locally with chert pebbles, interbedded with gray shale. Big Elk Sandstone Member (lower part of formation in southwest-central Montana): light gray, chert-rich sandstone commonly stained dark red, interbedded with thin, dark gray to black clayey shale. Marine shelf. Thickness as much as 260 m (853 ft). Mowry Formation (Km): Light gray to silvery gray, platy to blocky, siliceous shale and subordinate thin-bedded, gray siltstone or very fine-grained sandstone laminae or beds. Fish scales common in central Montana. Ledge-forming, chert-bearing, fine- to medium-grained sandstone at top throughout west-central Montana. Marine. Thickness 240 m (787 ft). Thermopolis Formation (Kt): Dark gray to black shale with subordinate siltstone beds. Middle part of formation contains one or more thin sandstone beds with chert pebble horizons where Muddy Sandstone is not present. Offshore marine. Thickness as much as 305 m (1,000 ft). Fall River Formation (Kfr): Gray and brown, fine- to medium-grained, quartzose sandstone with thin interbeds of dark gray shale. Nearshore marine. Thickness as much as 70 m (1,214 ft).

Lodgepole Formation (Mississippian) at surface, covers 1 % of this area

Woodhurst Member (upper part of formation): light gray, well-bedded limestone, typically with much dark chert, interbedded with thinner calcareous mudstone beds. Paine Member (middle part of formation):dark gray, thin-bedded, silty or fossiliferous limestone. Cottonwood Canyon Member (lower part of formation): black shale with basal conglomeratic lag deposit. Shallow marine. Thickness as much as 305 m (1000 ft).

Gravel (Quaternary) at surface, covers 1 % of this area

Variable deposits that range from pebble to boulder size and include sand, silt, and clay. Dominantly alluvial terrace, abandoned channel and floodplain, remnant alluvial fan, and local glacial outwash.

Tullock Member of Fort Union Formation (Tertiary) at surface, covers 1 % of this area

Yellow sandstone interbedded with subordinate grayish brown and black shale and thin beds of coal. Alluvial plain. Thickness as much as 180 m (590 ft).

Thermopolis Formation (Cretaceous) at surface, covers 1 % of this area

Dark gray to black shale with subordinate siltstone beds. Middle part of formation contains one or more thin sandstone beds with chert pebble horizons where Muddy Sandstone is not present. Offshore marine. Thickness as much as 305 m (1,000 ft).

Kootenai Formation (Cretaceous) at surface, covers 1.0 % of this area

Kootenai Formation (Kk, Kku, Kkm, Kkl): Red, maroon, and olive gray mudstone, tan or gray siltstone, calcareous concretions, limestone beds, and several prominent sandstone beds that include the Greybull Member (top of the formation in south-central Montana) and the Sunburst Member (middle to lower part of the formation in northwest-central Montana), both dominantly quartzose sandstone. Basal Cutbank or Pryor Conglomerate. Alluvial plain with local marine influence in the north. Thickness as much as 335 m (1,099 ft).

Lebo Member of Fort Union Formation (Tertiary) at surface, covers 1.0 % of this area

Dark gray carbonaceous shale, bentonitic claystone, sandstone, and coal. Alluvial plain. Thickness as much as 185 m (607 ft).

Latite (Tertiary) at surface, covers 0.8 % of this area

Latite

Amsden Formation and Big Snowy Group (Pennsylvanian and Mississippian) at surface, covers 0.8 % of this area

Amsden Formation (PAMa): Red shale, light gray limestone, and cherty and sandy limestone. Coastal plain or marine. Thickness as much as 180 m (590 ft). Big Snowy Group (Mbs) - Heath Formation (Mh): Black, fissile, commonly petroliferous shale with subordinate sandstone, gypsum, and coal. Restricted marine to coastal plain. Thickness as much as 150 m (492 ft). Otter Formation (Mo): Green, grayish green, gray, and subordinate reddish brown shale interbedded with light brown or gray limestone. Open and semirestricted marine. Thickness as much as 150 m (492 ft). Kibbey Formation (Mk): Red, quartzose sandstone, siltstone, and shale, locally with subordinate thin gypsum beds and limestone bed in middle part. Intertidal and subtidal. Thickness as much as 105 m (345 ft).

Telegraph Creek Formation (Cretaceous) at surface, covers 0.7 % of this area

Thin interbeds of yellowish brown sandstone or siltstone and gray shale. Marine shoreface and offshore. Thickness as much as 200 m (656 ft).

Fox Hills Formation (Cretaceous) at surface, covers 0.7 % of this area

Yellowish orange to gray, fine- to medium-grained, non-calcareous sandstone in upper part, and interbedded sandstone, siltstone, and black shale with calcareous concretion zone in lower part. Marginal marine. Thickness 30–45 m (98–148 ft).

Fort Union Formation (Tertiary and Cretaceous) at surface, covers 0.5 % of this area

Undivided Fort Union Formation - Sentinel Butte (Tfsb), Tongue River (Tftr), Linley (Tflc), Ludlow (Tfld), Lebo (Tfle), Ekalaka (Tfe), and Tullock (Tft) members.

Eagle and Telegraph Creek Formations (Cretaceous) at surface, covers 0.5 % of this area

Eagle Formation (Ke): Gray or grayish brown, thick-bedded sandstone, sandy shale, and thin interbedded coal. Chert-pebble lag deposit common at top of formation. Virgelle Member (lower part of formation in parts of central Montana): very light gray, gray, or brown sandstone that coarsens upward. Root zone and thin carbonaceous beds at top of member. Delta, coastal plain, tidal flat, and marine shoreface and foreshore. Thickness as much as 150 m (492 ft). Telegraph Creek Formation (Ktc): Thin interbeds of yellowish brown sandstone or siltstone and gray shale. Marine shoreface and offshore. Thickness as much as 200 m (656 ft).

Ferdig and Cone Members of Marias River Formation (Cretaceous) at surface, covers 0.4 % of this area

Ferdig Member (Kmf): Gray and dark gray shale with thin siltstone or sandstone beds at the top. Marine. Thickness as much as 125m (410 ft). Cone Member (Kmc): Calcareous, dark gray shale and thin limestone beds and lenses. Widespread bentonite bed and septarian concretions near base. Shallow marine. Thickness as much as 20 m (66 ft).

Fall River Formation (Cretaceous) at surface, covers 0.3 % of this area

Gray and brown, fine- to medium-grained, quartzose sandstone with thin interbeds of dark gray shale. Nearshore marine. Thickness as much as 70 m (1,214 ft).

Morrison Formation and Ellis Group (Cretaceous and Jurassic) at surface, covers 0.3 % of this area

Morrison Formation (Jm): Green, gray, or red mudstone and marlstone with subordinate limestone and sandstone beds. Upper part Neocomian age in central Montana and contains carbonaceous black shale and coal. Fluvial, paludal, and lacustrine. Thickness as much as 180 m (590 ft). Ellis Group (Je) - Swift Formation (Jsw): Orangish brown, glauconitic, flaggy-bedded, commonly fossiliferous, fine-grained sandstone or sandy coquina with subordinate dark gray shale interbeds; chert pebbles common. In west-central and northwestern Montana, a dark gray, noncalcareous, micaceous shale forms the lower part of the formation, commonly with a basal chert-pebble conglomerate or conglomeratic sandstone as much as 3 m (10 ft) thick. Shallow marine. Thickness as much as 70 m (230 ft). Rierdon Formation (Jr): Gray, locally fossiliferous limestone that may contain floating grains of quartz sand, interbedded with greenish gray limy shale. Lagoonal and marine shelf. Thickness as much as 105 m (344 ft). Sawtooth Formation: Western Montana: dark gray, platy to shaly, dense limestone with local basal conglomerate. Central Montana: upper calcareous siltstone, middle dark gray shale with thin limestone interbeds, and lower fine-grained sandstone. Three local members Bowes, Firemoon, and Tampico, in descending order. Bowes Member: dark gray to medium gray, calcareous mudstone, limestone, and quartzose sandstone. Firemoon Member: dark to medium gray, limestone and calcareous mudstone. Tampico Member: very light gray, well-sorted quartz sandstone and siltstone, and chert-pebble conglomerate. Shallow marine. Thickness as much as 205 m (673 ft). Piper Formation (Jp): Upper part: red mudstone and gypsum; middle part: gray shale, limestone, and dolomite; lower part: red mudstone and gypsum. Marine and restricted coastal evaporite basins. Thickness as much as 75 m (246 ft).

Pilgrim through Wolsey Formation: Pilgrim, Park, Meagher, and Wolsey Formations (Cambrian) at surface, covers 0.3 % of this area

Pilgrim Formation: Gray, commonly mottled limestone that may contain intraformational limestone conglomerate. Shallow marine. Thickness as much as 180 m (590 ft). Park Formation: Grayish green, fissile, micaceous shale with a few thin beds of calcareous sandstone and thin, gray limestone. Local arkose beds. Offshore marine. Thickness as much as 310 m (1,017 ft). Meagher Formation: Gray to bluish gray limestone and dolomitic limestone, locally mottled and with intraformational conglomerate beds. Shallow marine. Thickness as much as 300 m (984 ft). Wolsey Formation (CAw): Dark green and purplish gray fissile, micaceous shale, thin glauconitic limestone beds and thin, fine-grained sandstone beds. Shallow marine. Thickness as much as 145 m (476 ft).

Three Forks through Maywood Formation: Three Forks, Jefferson, and Maywood Formations or Palliser and Alexo Formations, and Fairholme Group in northwestern Montana near Canadian border (Mississippian and Devonian) at surface, covers 0.2 % of this area

Three Forks Formation (MDt): Sappington Member (upper part of formation):yellowish orange and yellowish gray siltstone. Trident Member (middle part of formation): greenish gray and light olive gray, fossiliferous, calcareous shale that contains interbeds and nodules of fossiliferous, argillaceous limestone. Logan Gulch Member (lower part of formation): yellowish gray and grayish red, argillaceous limestone breccia and shale breccia that may include dolomitic siltstone. Marine to restricted marine with evaporite basins. Thickness as much as 185 m (607 ft). Jefferson Formation (Dj): Birdbear Member (upper part of formation): light to medium gray, sucrosic dolomite. Lower part of formation: grayish black, commonly petroliferous dolomite or limestone that may be interbedded with light gray quartzite. Marine. Thickness as much as 520 m (1,706 ft). Maywood Formation: Thin-bedded dolomitic limestone and dolomite interbedded with calcareous shale. Shallow marine. Thickness as much as 120 m (394 ft). In northwestern Montana near Canadian border - Palliser Formation: Gray and greenish gray limestone and dolomitic limestone with locally abundant black chert. Pinkish gray, very thinly laminated, calcareous mudstone at base. Marine. Thickness as much as 300 m (984 ft). Alexo Formation: Pale yellowish orange, medium grained, calcareous siltstone with calcareous mudstone at the base. Shallow marine. Thickness as much as 595 m (1,952 ft). Fairholme Group: Brownish black, bioturbated, calcareous mudstone, gray algal limestone and dolomite, and pale yellowish orange, medium-grained, calcareous sandstone at the base. Thickness as much as 550 m(1,805 ft).

Marias River Formation (Cretaceous) at surface, covers < 0.1 % of this area

Marias River Formation (Kmr) - Kevin Member (Kmk): Dark gray shale with calcareous concretions and numerous bentonite beds. Upper part calcareous. MacGowan Concretionary Bed (middle part of member): grayish brown concretionary dolostone and limestone with phosphatic pellets, and gray to black chert pebbles. Marine. Thickness as much as 350 m (1,148 ft). Ferdig Member (Kmf): Gray and dark gray shale with thin siltstone or sandstone beds at the top. Marine. Thickness as much as 125m (410 ft). Cone Member (Kmc): Calcareous, dark gray shale and thin limestone beds and lenses. Widespread bentonite bed and septarian concretions near base. Shallow marine. Thickness as much as 20 m (66 ft). Floweree Member (Kmfl): Dark gray, noncalcareous shale with interbeds of siltstone. Calcareous concretions and scattered granules of dark gray chert. Shallow marine. Thickness as much as 30 m (98 ft).

Mowry through Fall River Formation: Mowry, Thermopolis, and Fall River Formations (Cretaceous) at surface, covers < 0.1 % of this area

Mowry Formation (Km): Light gray to silvery gray, platy to blocky, siliceous shale and subordinate thin-bedded, gray siltstone or very fine-grained sandstone laminae or beds. Fish scales common in central Montana. Ledge-forming, chert-bearing, fine- to medium-grained sandstone at top. throughout west-central Montana. Marine. Thickness 240 m (787 ft). Thermopolis Formation (Kt): Dark gray to black shale with subordinate siltstone beds. Middle part of formation contains one or more thin sandstone beds with chert pebble horizons where Muddy Sandstone is not present. Offshore marine. Thickness as much as 305 m (1,000 ft). Fall River Formation (Kfr): Gray and brown, fine- to medium-grained, quartzose sandstone with thin interbeds of dark gray shale. Nearshore marine. Thickness as much as 70 m (1,214 ft).

Ferdig Member of Marias River Formation (Cretaceous) at surface, covers < 0.1 % of this area

Gray and dark gray shale with thin siltstone or sandstone beds at the top. Marine. Thickness as much as 125m (410 ft).

Lennep Formation (Cretaceous) at surface, covers < 0.1 % of this area

Yellow to gray, fine- to medium-grained sandstone with subordinate interbedded gray shale. Nearshore marine. Thickness as much as 185 m (607 ft).

Lance Formation (Cretaceous) at surface, covers < 0.1 % of this area

Orangish brown, coarse- to fine-grained sandstone with subordinate interbeds of shale and mudstone. Laterally equivalent to Hell Creek Formation. Fluvial. Thickness as much as 150 m (492 ft).

Morrison Formation and Ellis Group (Jurassic) at surface, covers < 0.1 % of this area

Morrison Formation (Jm): Green, gray, or red mudstone and marlstone with subordinate limestone and sandstone beds. Upper part Neocomian age in central Montana and contains carbonaceous black shale and coal. Fluvial, paludal, and lacustrine. Thickness as much as 180 m (590 ft). Ellis Group (Je) - Swift Formation (Jsw): Orangish brown, glauconitic, flaggy-bedded, commonly fossiliferous, fine-grained sandstone or sandy coquina with subordinate dark gray shale interbeds; chert pebbles common. In west-central and northwestern Montana, a dark gray, noncalcareous, micaceous shale forms the lower part of the formation, commonly with a basal chert-pebble conglomerate or conglomeratic sandstone as much as 3 m (10 ft) thick. Shallow marine. Thickness as much as 70 m (230 ft). Rierdon Formation (Jr): Gray, locally fossiliferous limestone that may contain floating grains of quartz sand, interbedded with greenish gray limy shale. Lagoonal and marine shelf. Thickness as much as 105 m (344 ft). Sawtooth Formation: Western Montana: dark gray, platy to shaly, dense limestone with local basal conglomerate. Central Montana: upper calcareous siltstone, middle dark gray shale with thin limestone interbeds, and lower fine-grained sandstone. Three local members Bowes, Firemoon, and Tampico, in descending order. Bowes Member: dark gray to medium gray, calcareous mudstone, limestone, and quartzose sandstone. Firemoon Member: dark to medium gray, limestone and calcareous mudstone. Tampico Member: very light gray, well-sorted quartz sandstone and siltstone, and chert-pebble conglomerate. Shallow marine. Thickness as much as 205 m (673 ft). Piper Formation (Jp): Upper part: red mudstone and gypsum; middle part: gray shale, limestone, and dolomite; lower part: red mudstone and gypsum. Marine and restricted coastal evaporite basins. Thickness as much as 75 m (246 ft).